Perhaps the biggest unknown in the process of digital transformation is the outcome. While engineers and other technology experts are enthralled by the operational efficiency and cutting-edge capabilities that digital transformation brings, the business side of the organization (aka, the decision-makers), wants to know what’s in it for them.
The simplest way to do this, of course, is to tout either the money-saving or the money-making opportunities that a fully digitized process represents. But given the investment and disruption that this project is likely to involve, it would be best to have something more than vague promises when making the initial pitch.
While tales abound of transformation projects gone bad, the few success stories out there point to a world that drives out waste and duplication, increases profit margins and even creates entirely new market opportunities.
A recent report by Vodafone highlights the power of a successful transformation. While nearly 80 percent of UK business leaders view digital transformation as a strategic priority, the more telling data highlights the divide between those who support the change and those who don’t. Executives at forward-leaning organizations express higher confidence in the future of their business than those who are not pursuing transformation. In fact, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed say that without a digital strategy, they will likely be out of business in a relatively short time.
Of course, it takes more than a positive outlook to produce a successful outcome, which is why true success stories are so invaluable at this stage of the game. One such is Scandic Hotels in Norway. The award-winning chain needed to manage rapid growth while maintaining core values like sustainability and quality guest experiences. Part of the solution was to digitize select processes in food service and other areas, such as the “Too Good to Go” app that reduces food waste and increases revenue by preserving leftovers to be offered at discount prices. As well, the company has started measuring the weight of returned plates to more accurately gauge how much food should be produced each day. So far, the company has cut its wasted food by about 80 tons, or about 125,000 meals.
In the eCommerce world, executives should take heart from the experiences of German online clothing retailer Lesara, which has seen a growth rate of some 72,000 percent in the past four years and now serves more than 10 million customers in nearly two dozen countries. One of its secrets is a strong commitment to analytics that allows the company to identify trends, design products and post them on the web site in as little as two weeks – a process that would normally take the better part of a year. At the same time, its command of data allows it to rapidly expand into new markets, not with the same template over and over again but with finely tailored, data-driven strategies for each target.
In transportation – a sector that is rife with inefficiency and cost issues – transformation is producing more streamlined operations and better customer satisfaction. Tasmania’s SRT Logistics has shown how highly granular data analytics can cut travel time, save fuel and other costs and better preserve and protect equipment and inventory. A recently installed automated telemetry system, for example, gathers data on route topologies, road conditions, and a host of other metrics to streamline the delivery process. The company has also implemented a new workforce rostering system that manages dispatch schedules, tracks hours behind the wheel, and oversees other functions to improve safety and overall working conditions.
There is no right answer for everyone’s digital transformation. Every organization begins the process with its own requirements, legacy infrastructure, cultural attributes and business models. But if one aspect is common to those who have found success so far, it’s that they did not try to do too much too quickly.
By identifying a key business need and leveraging digital technology to those highly targeted purposes, organizations stand a better chance of improving their business and relieving employees of some of their daily stress. And from there, momentum should take care of the rest.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.